First published 19/08/19; last updated 11/03/21.

From harbourside restaurants to stunning roof terraces, we've picked out some of the best places to eat al fresco in Bristol when the sun is shining.

Where will you be heading to first, once lockdown restrictions ease and they’re able to reopen come 12 April 2021? Let us know on Twitter or Instagram.

Please check directly with restaurants and pubs for updates on their reopening plans. Read our latest Covid-19 guidance and advice here.

By the water

Woky Ko: Rooftop

Stop by the Woky Ko restaurant in CARGO 2 at Wapping Wharf for baos, ice cold beers and Harbourside views on the sunny rooftop terrace. This is the newest of the four Woky Ko sites in Bristol, with more of their award-winning Japanese dishes available just a stone's throw away at the original restaurant in CARGO 1

Bao buns from Woky Ko: CARGO

Image - Woky Ko baos, credit Paolo Ferla

No.1 Harbourside

With plenty of room inside as well as seating out on the quayside, No.1 Harbourside is one of the best places to watch the hustle and bustle of this area of Bristol, while tucking into a tasty meal and local beer. The menu is weighted towards veggie dishes, with a couple of meat and fish options.

No.1 Harbourside Bristol
Credit: No.1 Harbourside

Arnolfini Café Bar

One of the most well-known corners of the harbour, the terrace outside Arnolfini has one of the best views going.

If you’re not dangling your legs over the quayside with a beer in hand (the café is managed by Bristol Beer Factory, so there’s usually a strong local offering to choose from), we strongly recommend trying their seasonal menu, ranging from freshly-made sandwiches to frittatas, burgers and salads.

Arnolfini Cafe
Credit: Arnolfini

The Stable

Pizzas, pies and cider, all with a strong West Country slant. The Stable is a great place for groups and a quick refuel on the harbourside. Cider newbies and aficionados alike will appreciate the cider tasting flights, allowing you to try several smaller measures at once.

  • Dining with a group or the family? Za Za Bazaar and Revolucion de Cuba are along the same stretch of the quayside and do great offers on food throughout the week.

The Stable Bristol
Credit: The Stable

Mud Dock

A staple of the Bristol café scene for over 25 years, Mud Dock’s balconies have some gorgeous harbour views which you can enjoy while devouring one of their breakfasts, or sipping a cocktail at sunset.

Mud Dock Bristol
Credit: Mud Dock

Riverstation

This glass-fronted restaurant is split across two levels, both of which have outdoor balcony seating. The downstairs area is more casual, where you can enjoy brunch, lunch and specially-crafted cocktails, while the upstairs restaurant has a seasonal menu and special dining events throughout the year, collaborating with local producers, breweries and distilleries. Riverstation plans to reopen on 17 May – check their Facebook page for booking details.  

You’ll also find contemporary pub classics at Harbour House next door, which is reopening its outdoor spaces from 15 April.

Outside seating and view of colourful houses at Riverstation
Credit: Riverstation

The Ostrich

Boasting one of the largest terraces in the city, The Ostrich is one of the city’s oldest pubs, but has been given a modern revamp, including a menu of small plates, burgers and BBQ in the warmer months. 

The Ostrich Bristol
Credit: The Ostrich

Paco Tapas

Bristol’s Michelin-starred tapas restaurant, situated in the serene Bathurst Basin, a small inlet just next to the harbour. As you’d expect, the food here is outstanding and the atmosphere is always buzzing. We recommend trying a bit of everything with the Chef’s Menu at £50pp.

While you’re there you can take a peek at Casamia next door. This restaurant is run by the same family and has held onto its Michelin star since 2009.

Paco Tapas
Credit: Paco Tapas

Gambas

Wapping Wharf has become a new focal point of dining on Bristol’s harbourside, and Gambas can definitely boast one of the best views of the businesses in the CARGO shipping containers. Enjoy a mix of tapas favourites and seafood specialities along with some summery Spanish drinks and snacks on the terrace, opening again on 12 April.

If it’s too busy, stroll a couple of doors down to sister restaurant CARGO Cantina for tacos, Margaritas and mezcal. It’s worth checking out the other brilliant businesses of Wapping Wharf during your visit, and if you’re keen on a view of the water, go for a veggie-focused dinner at Root, or feast on fish and chips at Salt & Malt downstairs.

Wapping Wharf
Wapping Wharf. Credit: Jon Craig Photography.

Broken Dock

Situated in the picturesque Brunel Quay, Broken Dock serves up a delicious brunch menu, as well as a great evening menu and award-winning roast dinners. If you’re after a more Mediterranean menu, try Spoke & Stringer next door. They plan to open up outdoor seating again from 12 April. 

You can catch the cross harbour ferry just outside Broken Dock across to Brunel’s SS Great Britain, where you’ll also find the cute Greenshank boat café, run by Bristol Packet Boat Trips.

Broken Dock Bristol
Credit: Broken Dock

The Grain Barge

You’re never far from a bar or restaurant on a boat in Bristol’s Floating Harbour, and The Grain Barge has to be one of the most popular. Sup a cider in the sunshine on the top deck, or get comfy indoors with one of their tasty meal deals, from Pie & a Pint to £12 steak dinners every Wednesday.

Grain Barge Bristol
Credit: Grain Barge

The Cottage Inn

This cosy pub next to Underfall Yard at the western end of the harbour has a menu of traditional pub favourites – we recommend the fish and chips! If you can’t find a seat directly outside, you can sit on the steps closer to the water and watch the ferries, kayakers and windsurfers.

If you’re looking for a quick coffee and snack, Pickle is a small café with some outdoor seating inside the Underfall Yard visitor centre. 

The Cottage Bristol
Credit: The Cottage Inn

Dine with a view

Bambalan

The biggest roof terrace in the city centre, it always feels like you’re on holiday at Bambalan, from the Mediterranean-inspired mezze and bab menu, to the seasonal cocktails (which are 2 for £10 from 4-9pm all week). They also do a fantastic brunch menu, and host terrace parties and special events throughout the year. Their diary is open for bookings from 12 April. 

Bambalan Bristol
Credit: Bambalan

Goram & Vincent at the Avon Gorge

You won’t find a more iconic view in the city than from the terrace and restaurant of the Avon Gorge hotel – a breath-taking vista of the Clifton Suspension Bridge and Avon Gorge below. The menu at Goram & Vincent is a mix of classics such as steak and baked scallops through to dishes from their BBQ smoker such as beef brisket or pastrami.

If you’re looking for a bite and a few drinks, The White Lion Bar next door shares the same stunning view.


Credit: Avon Gorge by Hotel du Vin

Lido

While the view may not be of gorgeous greenery or cityscapes, the restaurant at Lido has its own special view over the outdoor pool, which provides a relaxing vista while you’re waiting for your lunch or dinner.

The menu is a mix of tapas and Middle Eastern-inspired dishes, so between that and watching the swimmers do their lengths, you’ll struggle to remember that you’re still in the middle of the city!

Lido Bristol
Credit: Lido Bristol

Gardens and terraces

Racks

The terrace at Racks in Clifton is quite the suntrap, with plenty of seating and space, in contrast to the quirky alcoves of the bar indoors. Racks boasts a great range of offers, from their £5 lunch menu and steak & chips for £10 every Thursday, to prosecco for just £3 a glass until 7pm from Monday – Friday.

Racks Bristol
Credit: Racks

The Square Kitchen

Not far from Racks and run by the same team, The Square Kitchen also has a secluded garden if you’re looking for a quiet bite to eat. Their Secret Garden is fully heated and covered, so even on chillier evenings it’s a great place to hang out.

The Secret Garden at The Square Kitchen

Credit: The Secret Garden at The Square Kitchen

Klosterhaus

This glamourous restaurant in the Grade I-listed Quakers Friars building was an exciting addition to the Bristol food scene in 2020. With the feel of a grand café inside, they also have a terrace outside which will open again from 12 April. Join them for Mittel-European cuisine and classic German dishes as well as excellent cocktails and German beers.

Terrace outside Klosterhaus restaurant in Bristol

Credit: Klosterhaus 

The Canteen

One of the most popular places to eat on Stokes Croft, The Canteen has a great value menu of seasonal and locally-sourced dishes, which you can enjoy in the main bar area, or people watch from their front terrace.

Sister venue The Old Market Assembly also has its own popular outdoor space - a large roof terrace!

Canteen Bristol

Tobacco Factory

This popular café-bar in Southville is as large on the outside as it is inside, with a huge outdoor area which plays host to a large food & crafts market every Sunday. Choose from cakes, snacks and seasonal main menu dishes at the main bar, or there’s a pizza bar in the outdoor courtyard. 

Tobacco Factory Bristol
Credit: Tobacco Factory

St George's Bristol Cafe

Following a stunning renovation, St George’s transformed its café area, which now has a light and airy interior, as well as seating in the garden out front. The breakfast and lunch menus are very popular, although you’ll want to save room for the tempting cakes on offer too! A beautiful and tranquil spot away from the bustle of the city centre just a few minute’s walk away.

St George's Cafe Bar

Street food

Please note, market trading days and opening hours may be different due to Covid-19. 

Bristol also has more than its fair share of markets, pop-ups and street food events. Don’t miss St Nicholas Market, which has a selection of fantastic food stalls, ranging from pies and Persian wraps through to Caribbean curries, tacos, spicy Szechuan noodles and Japanese gyoza.

The streets next to the main market also host a variety of stalls throughout the week, including a Vegan Market on Mondays, Farmers Market every Wednesday, and an extended Street Food Market on Tuesdays and Fridays. 

St Nicholas Market
Credit: St Nicholas Market

Other street food markets worth checking out include the extensive Harbourside Market, Finzels Reach Market every Friday lunchtime, Temple Quay Market every Thursday and the Tobacco Factory Sunday Market

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The best places to eat al fresco in Bristol

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Arnolfini Harbourside Bar
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Arnolfini Harbourside Bar

Relaxed café bar inside the Arnolfini gallery right next to the Harbourside.

Woky Ko: CARGO
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Credit Paolo Ferla

Woky Ko's original award winning Asian restaurant at Wapping Wharf. Woky Ko: CARGO serves Asian street food for lunch & dinner (plus takeaway) featuring Bao, Xiao sharing plates, noodle and rice dishes.

Woky Ko: Rooftop
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Ramen

Woky Ko Rooftop, is located on the second floor of Wapping Wharf on a beautiful terrace, expect outdoor seating, ice cold beer and a bao and small plates menu designed for the sunshine.

Mud Dock Cycleworks and Cafe
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Over the last 25 years, Mud Dock Café has evolved to become one of Bristol’s most successful independent restaurants.

Riverstation
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Located on Bristol’s iconic harbourside, Riverstation is the perfect place to enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner all year round.

Paco Tapas
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Paco Tapas credit Dominka Scheibinger

With jamón ready to carve, padrón peppers roasting over the wood fire and sherry straight from the barrel let them transport you to Andalusia.

Broken Dock
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Broken Dock Bristol

Come and lounge with them along the water, overlooking the SS Great Britain & Ashton Court and find out why they have the ideal space to simply relax with the highest standard of dining on offer.

Bambalan
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Bambalan Bristol brunch

The latest venture from the Hyde & Co group, Bambalan burst onto the Bristol food scene in May 2016 and has fast become a firm favourite for laid back drinking and dining ever since!

Goram & Vincent at The Avon Gorge by Hotel du Vin
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Goram & Vincent at The Avon Gorge by Hotel du Vin

Imagine a gritty, earthy smoke house with open kitchen for fire, smoke and theatre, coal fired grills, a smoker and bespoke clay ovens

The Lido Restaurant
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Critically-acclaimed restaurant overlooking The Lido in the Clifton area

Racks Bar & Kitchen
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Racks Bar and Kitchen, one of Clifton’s best venues, is the perfect place to visit if you’re looking for a restaurant with excellent table service and a delicious array of breakfast, lunch and evening meals.

The Square Kitchen
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The Square Kitchen

Located in Clifton, The Square Kitchen is a fantastic fine-dining restaurant using locally sourced ingredients. Come for the food, stay for the lower-deck cocktail bar, where the bartenders will wow you with their vast repertoire of cocktails!

Klosterhaus
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Klosterhaus

Located in an iconic grade 1 listed building composed of a glamorous restaurant, bar, event spaces and outdoor terraces.

St George's Bristol Cafe Bar
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St George's Bristol Cafe Bar

St George's beautiful grounds with patio seating and serene surroundings makes the perfect place for their alfresco Café Bar.

St Nicholas Market
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St Nicks Market Corn St

Established in 1743 St Nicholas Market is the oldest and best loved market in Bristol, famous for some of the best food in the city.